District Connection - 8/8/16
Another week is in the books, and with it, another troubling revelation in the news about the Obama Administration’s dangerous foreign policy with Iran. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Iran’s release of four American prisoners coincided with the Obama Administration’s shipment of the equivalent of $400 million in cash to Iran on an unmarked cargo plane. While the Administration has denied that the airlifted payment had any connection to the prisoner release, it feels remarkably like a ransom payment to Iran. Not only does a payment of this nature set a very dangerous precedent with Iran that the U.S. will pay a high price for any Americans Iran decides to detain—a concern that the President’s own Department of Justice raised, but was ultimately overruled—it also means Iran now has $400 million more in cash at its disposal to finance terror, develop ballistic missiles, and commit more human rights abuses against its own population.
At the same time, this payment to Iran also means there’s $400 million less that our nation has that could’ve gone towards strengthening security at our borders, improving the screening of those entering our nation, or a host of other laudable national security purposes. In the increasingly dangerous world that we live in, every national security dollar absolutely counts. This is a topic that I care deeply about, and I am grateful to all of you who took the time to participate in my national security telephone town hall late last week. While our discussions during the town hall were informative and productive, too often I fear that the actions of the Obama Administration, such as this one, represent a step back in advancing our nation’s security. In this situation and others, I also fear that national security is not only jeopardized, but the trust of the American people is too. The Administration should be frank and open with the American people about its dealings with Iran, and when Congress and the American people learn about situations such as this one from newspaper headlines instead of from the President himself, the trust and confidence of the American people in their government is damaged. This is unacceptable, and the American people absolutely deserve better.
- Wall Street Journal. U.S. sent cash to Iran as Americans were freed
- Washington Post. Obama’s Iran debacle looks worse and worse
It’s nearly impossible to turn on the news these days without hearing about the Zika virus’ spread in Florida. I know how concerning it is, especially for expectant mothers and fathers, to know that Zika is spreading in the United States. The good news is that even though President Obama is continuing to erroneously suggest that Congress is hampering our ability to fight Zika – that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Congress has appropriated nearly $600 million to fight Zika so far, and the House has approved an additional $1.1 billion bill to fund Zika eradication efforts. What’s more, the medical community is already working on developing vaccines for Zika that could – thanks to Congress – be fast tracked through the FDA approval process. The animal testing phase of the vaccine development process is reportedly going very well, and if we can convince the President and Senate Democrats to support the House-passed funding bill, I’m sure we can make a real difference for all Americans.
- NBC News. Striking results from early Zika vaccine trial
- Wall Street Journal. Zika and the Democrats: Obama is sitting on money and methods to slow the virus; instead he blames Congress
- USA Today. Drop the politics, put health first
In our part of the world, we know the important roles that education, transportation, and budgeting play in our local economy, and we work hard to keep our community great. That work was highlighted in a recent nationwide survey of top counties for investment in the local economy. I got to experience some of that success firsthand this week during my visit to ENERVEX, a Danish company that is the world's leading supplier of mechanical draft systems and integrated venting design solutions located in an 80,000 square foot facility right here in Forsyth County. I’m incredibly proud to represent Forsyth, and I am heartened to see that the tough choices and real sacrifices we make to protect our quality of life is serving as a model for other counties around the nation.
- Forsyth County News. Forsyth County 9th in nation for local economy investments
And local economic success isn’t just at the county level; it’s at the state level as well. I’ve spoken about our Georgia Congressional Delegation’s success in getting federal investment for the expansion of the Port of Savannah, and I’m happy to report that the State of Georgia is using that federal support to its best advantage. Just last week Governor Deal announced a brand new, multi-million dollar partnership between Kia Motors, the State, and Cordele Intermodal Services to move Kia products to and from the Port of Savannah more efficiency and effectively. We’re talking about more than 15,000 jobs in the West Point, Georgia area that are supported by Kia’s manufacturing base. That’s real economic opportunity and it’s exactly the type of public-private partnership and investment in our local economy that can be achieved in the wake of continued federal support for large infrastructure projects like the Port of Savannah.
- Atlanta Journal of Transportation. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announces Kia, rail provider partnership
- Chattanooga Times Free Press. Rural Georgia rail port gets big boost from Kia auto parts
I want to thank everyone who participated in my national security telephone town hall meeting last Thursday. We had a tremendously productive discussion with House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-TX) that stretched from what to do about Iran to how to best screen refugees to how we can fight and win against ISIS. When polled, 87% of the people on the call said they don’t feel safer now than they did 8 years ago, and that’s a serious problem for our government. It shows that we must have a coherent national policy to defeat ISIS, not the hodge-podge of policies advocated by the White House. Chairman McCaul spends every day working to protect our homeland from terrorism, and I am so grateful that he decided to take time out to speak with us in the 7th District.
Member of Congress